4A West

1 Quince Orchard (10-0) v Walter Johnson (6-4) – The Cougars scored the final 28 points in a 63-28 win over Walter Johnson in week 3, which followed a hard earned 20-13 victory over #3 ranked Paint Branch the week before. Quince Orchard became the 8th team in MPSSAA history to win 35 post-season games in their opening round 49-6 blowout win over Gaithersburg last Friday, joining Damascus (57) and Seneca Valley (43) from Montgomery County. The Cougars have won 15 straight ‘Round of 16’ matchups, after losing their first and only in 2004. Walter Johnson won its first playoff game in its program’s history in 2019, over Urbana, 42-10, before getting extinguished by the Cougars, 55-21, the following week. The Cougars Marquez Cooper rushed for 333 yards and four touchdowns in the win. 

5 Northwest (9-1) v Churchill (8-2) – Northwest and Churchill met in the ‘Round of 16’ in 2018, with the 8-2 Jaguars pummeling the 9-1 Bulldogs, 56-20. The two also met in the same round in 2012, with the Jags claiming a 24-7 victory. Outside of a disappointing 31-0 loss to their arch rival Quince Orchard in week 8, the Jaguars have outscored their other nine opponents, 365-42, including a 26-0 shutout win over Damascus, a 74-0 annihilation of Walter Johnson, and a 22-0 win over Seneca Valley. The Bulldogs haven’t  played any of the seven Montgomery County teams ranked ahead of them, but they have beaten three solid teams in Blake (7-0 OT), Bethesda Chevy Chase (7-0), and Richard Montgomery (34-14). 

Picks to earn state quarterfinal berths; Quince Orchard and Northwest

4A North

3 Paint Branch (8-1) v Einstein (7-3) – Paint Branch, who pasted Einstein, 44-7, in week 1, has posted four straight shutouts in wins over Blake (28-0), Northwood (57-0), Sherwood (33-0), and Watkins Mill (54-0). The Panthers staked a 36-0 halftime lead in the first meeting with the Titans. Einstein is 7-0 versus non-Top 25 opponents, 0-3 versus the ‘big dogs’. Aside from the loss to the Panthers, the Titans took a 21-7 defeat from Blair in week 2, and a 41-14 loss to Sherwood in week 4. Paint Branch is 6-1 in ‘Round of 16’ matchups, registering five straight wins. The Titans notched their first post-season victory in their program’s history in 2019, before losing to Parkville, 48-7, the following week. 

17 Blair (7-2) v 18 Laurel (8-2) – The second round tilt of the Blazers and Spartans presents an intriguing matchup, with a second level 4A Montgomery County team taking on a second level 4A Prince Georges side. While the Blazers may not be Quince Orchard, Paint Branch, or Northwest, and and the Spartans may not be Wise or Flowers, both Blair and Laurel have earned top 20 seasons, thus far. And both are on the ‘come up’. Laurel played in its first playoff game since 1992 in 2019, losing to Suitland in the opening round, before earning its first post-season victory since 1987 in its 49-0 shutout over Wheaton last weekend. Blair received an opening round bye when Bladensburg opted out of the playoffs. Laurel is 2-2 versus the top 25, with losses to Wise (51-7) and Flowers (14-7), and wins over Potomac (19-18 OT) and Bowie (24-14). The Spartans faced all four in the first five weeks of the season, and have since gone 5-0, outscoring their opponents, 251-28 (50.2-5.6), in those handful of games. Blair has gone 0-2 versus the top 25, after getting handled by Paint Branch (38-13), and losing to Sherwood (28-26) by two. Blair’s only post-season victory came in a 2014 42-0 opening round shutout of Wheaton. With a win, Laurel coach Michael Mayo would become the 29th Maryland public school coach to win 180 games. This game is a toss-up.

Picks to earn state quarterfinal berths; Paint Branch and Laurel

4A South 

2 Wise (9-0) v 22 Eleanor Roosevelt (7-3) – These two ‘PG’ heavyweights battled two weeks ago, with Wise pulling out a 20-14 victory over Eleanor Roosevelt in the regular season finale. The Pumas are coming off a 77-0 drubbing of Northwestern in the opening round, as Jayden Saurey connected on all five of his passes, producing four touchdowns. Saurey is 23-0 (including two forfeits) as the starting quarterback for the Pumas, and has accounted for 65 touchdowns in 21 starts. The Pumas have registered five shutouts in seven games (not including the two forfeit wins). The Raiders, for their part, have kept eight of ten opponents to 14 points or less, and six of ten to 8 points or less. Wise Coach DaLawn Parrish has led the Pumas to 75 victories in their last 77 games, which includes 65 straight wins versus Prince Georges County opponents. The Pumas are 8-0 versus the Raiders in the playoffs, including 4-0 in the ‘Round of 16’ matchups. 

4 Flowers (9-1) v 21 Bowie (8-2) – The Jaguars shut out Bowie, 39-0, in their regular season meeting in week 4. The Jags forced Bowie into six turnovers, including four interceptions. Since, the Bulldogs have gone 6-0, with a win over Eleanor Roosevelt and a pair of wins over DuVal. The Jaguars have held eight of their ten opponents to 7 points or less, and are allowing only 6.6 points per game. The Jaguars suffered a last minute loss to Wise, 2019, after going for a potential game-winning two point conversion, recorded three victories over top 25 teams in weeks 3-5 – Eleanor Roosevelt (14-7), Bowie (39-0, and Laurel (14-7). On the field, Flowers has gone 38-5 since the 2017 opener, losing to Eleanor Roosevelt, 14-7, in the ‘Round of ‘16 in 2017, and to Wise in the regional final/quarterfinal in 2018 and 2019. Overall, Flowers is 9-4 in the ‘Round of 16’, and Bowie is 0-3. The Bulldogs have advanced past the regional final/quarterfinal round just once, when the Bulldogs took the 4A state championship in 2000. 

Picks to earn state quarterfinal berths; Wise and Flowers.

4A East

9 Broadneck (7-1) v Parkville (6-4) – Broadneck, who had their week 9 game scrapped because of weather, and then received a bye in the opening round, will be playing their first game in three weeks when they meet the Knights of Parkville. The Bruins have won seven straight games since a 44-13 opening week loss to undefeated, Baltimore private school power, Spalding. The Bruins have scored 30 or more points in all seven wins, and have scored 40 or more points in the last five games. The Bruins were eliminated in the opening round in 2018 and 2019, after a second round defeat in 2017. The Knights had their finest season in 2019, advancing to the 4A quarterfinals. The Bruins are 8-3 in the ‘Round of 16’, while the Knights are 1-3 in week 11, winning their last, 48-7, over Einstein. Three of the Knights four losses were to top 10 teams – Dundalk, Milford Mill, and Franklin. 

14 Old Mill (7-2) v Annapolis (6-3) – Old Mill whalloped ‘Nap Town’, 48-7, in week 3, holding the Panthers to 71 rushing yards on 39 attempts, and forcing three interceptions. The Patriots built a 34-7 halftime lead, before cruising over their league foes. Patriots quarterback Myles Fulton became the third MPSSAA passer to surpass 2,000 passing yards this season in the Pats 70-0 thrashing of Meade in the opening round, and raised his MPSSAA second best mark in passing touchdowns to 28. The Patriots have scored 32 points or more in all of their seven wins, including having scored 48 points or more in six of their seven victories. The Patriots two losses have come to undefeated Fort Hill, and Broadneck, who is also unbeaten versus MPSSAA competition. Annapolis has just two post-season wins since 2000, with both coming in 2010, when the Panthers advanced to the 4A state semifinals. The Patriots are 9-6 in the ‘Round of ‘16’, while the Panthers are 1-3.

Picks to earn state quarterfinal berths; Broadneck and Old Mill.

4/3A West

Seneca Valley (7-3) v Howard (4-6) – The Screamin’ Eagles of Seneca Valley have limited eight of their ten opponents to 13 points or less. After losses to Quince Orchard (35-0), Northwest (22-0), and Richard Montgomery (13-0), the Screamin’ Eagles registered their biggest win of the season in week 9, coming back from seven down to upend the Swarmin’ Hornets of Damascus, 10-7, in the regular season finale. Since starting 1-5 in 2019, the Screamin’ Eagles have won 13 of their last 17 games. This season, Seneca Valley is allowing just 10.3 points per game. Howard, who went 57-7 over five seasons from ‘14 through ‘18, has gone 13-13 since. The Lions are averaging only 9.6 points per game over their last nine games. The Screamin’ Eagles and Damascus became the third and fourth teams to make 30 playoff appearances, and the Eagles 44 playoff wins rank fourth in MPSSAA history. While Seneca Valley found most of its success and won every one of its 12 state titles before the MPSSAA playoffs expanded to 16 teams per class in 2003, the Screamin’ Eagles hold a sub-par record of 4-6 in the ‘Round of 16’. 

Mt Hebron (5-5) v Urbana (4-6) – Mt Hebron notched just their second playoff victory in their program’s history with their 50-24 win over Thomas Johnson on Friday night, and their first in 39 years. The Vikings went 0-10 in 2019, in a season where they were outscored 410-74. The Vikings have beaten the lesser teams, and lost to the better teams. As has Urbana, who has lost to Linganore, Sherwood, Middletown, Oakdale, St Mary’s Ryken, and Richard Montgomery. The Hawks will be looking for their 25th post-season victory, while the Vikings will be looking for their third. Urbana is 6-5 in the ‘Round of 16’, while the Vikes are 0-2.

Picks to earn state quarterfinal berths; Seneca Valley and Urbana.

4/3A North

6 Dundalk (9-0) v Kenwood (6-4) – Dundalk is on its way to having their best season in their program’s history, should they notch at least three more victories, after finishing with an undefeated regular season for the first time in school history. The only other season that compares to this season’s Owls success is 2015, when they finished 9-1 in the regular season, topped Franklin in the regional final, then advanced to the 3A state title game, finishing 12-2. This year’s Owls pulled out a pair of gritty wins early in the season, including a 14-7 win over Perry Hall, and a 14-13 nail-biter with Westminster, but have stepped on the gas pedal since. The Owls outscored Towson and Catonsville, 98-7, collectively, then took out Franklin, 27-13, after taking a 21-0 lead, then closed out the regular season by beating Dulaney and Patapsco by a combined score of 116-0. Kenwood has been solid, not spectacular. Bluebirds running back Troy Dukes has rushed for 1,459 yards and 19 touchdowns, ranking fifth and tied for third in their respective categories in the MPSSAA. 

13 Mervo (7-1) v Perry Hall (6-4) – Mervo’s biggest weakness heading into the post-season may be lack of snaps, as the Mustangs have played just six contests on the field this season. And, lack of tests, as the only challenge the ‘Stangs have received this season came in the opening week 48-46 overtime loss to Dunbar. Since, it’s been heartache and uncertainty. Mustangs receiver Elijah Gorham died three weeks after being carted off the field in the loss to the Poets, and forfeits, byes and weather have limited the Mustangs to a half of a dozen games on the field. Outside of the Poets loss, the Mustangs have outscored their other five opponents, 196-6. Though Perry Hall is 6-4 and has lost to three top 50 opponents – Dundalk (14-7), Franklin (34-13), and Chesapeake AA (41-19), the Gators haven’t beaten a team that currently holds a winning record.

Picks to earn state quarterfinal berths; Dundalk and Mervo. 

4/3A South

15 Sherwood (7-2) v Springbrook (4-6) – Two one-time 4A Montgomery County powerhouses battle in this one, but both of those ‘one-times’ were a while ago, and this isn’t 4A, it’s a one-time 4/3A hybrid. Springbrook was the MPSSAA ‘Team of the 80s’, winning five 4A state titles in the decade, and playing in two other 4A title games. In an 11 year period, from ‘79 through ‘89, the Blue Devils played in eight 4A state championship games in eleven seasons. Sherwood played in seven 4A state title games in 12 seasons from ‘95 through ‘06, and won two other regional titles in that span. This season, the Warriors have been turned back decisively by both Northwest and Paint Branch, but nonetheless remain as one of the three favorites to win the 4/3A classification, along with Dundalk and Mervo. Sherwood, who has won 33 post-season games, is 10-3 in the ‘Round of 16’. Springbrook’s 28-8 victory over Kennedy last Friday was the Blue Devils first playoff win since 1994. The Blue Devils are 0-3 in the ‘Round of 16’.

Blake (4-5) v Magruder (4-6) – In just about any other season, neither one of these two teams would be in this position, in 4A or 3A, battling for a quarterfinal berth. Yet, here we are. To its credit, all five of Blake’s losses have come to top 50 teams, including three to those in the top 25 – Sherwood (21-6), Blair (13-6), and Paint Branch (28-0). The Bengals strongest win was a 7-0 victory over Springbrook, while Magruder’s strongest win is also its verdict over Springbrook, also by one score, 28-20. Blake is 1-4 in the ‘Round of 16’, while Magruder is 2-0. 

Picks to earn state quarterfinal berths; Sherwood and Blake. 

4/3A East

Severna Park (6-2) v North Point (6-3) – Severna Park will have its first winning season in ten years, rebounding from a 3-7 mark in 2019. The Falcons have held five of their eight opponents to 7 points or less. North Point has won five of their last six games, including handing Huntingtown its only loss of the season. The Eagles also have wins over St Charles and Leonardtown, while the Falcons hold wins over South River and Chesapeake AA, two teams that have legitimate chances to advance to their respective quarterfinals, the 4/3A and the 3A. Severna Park is 3-2 in the ‘Round of 16’, while North Point is 4-6. 

Arundel (6-3) v South River (4-6) – This isn’t your typical ‘Round of 16’ game, having a team with a losing record in the upper class(ification) brackets, but again, this is 2021, and to be honest, South River isn’t your typical 4-6 team. The Seahawks had to forfeit a trio of victories for playing an ineligible player, pushing them down to the 7 seed, rather than the 2 seed. Arundel has won five of its last six games, including its 36-15 opening round victory over Chopticon, the fourth time in five games the Cats have scored 36 points or more. In 2019, the Seahawks were the undefeated county champions, and 10-0, before losing to the Wildcats, 47-34, in the ‘Round of 16’. Overall, Arundel is 8-7 in the ‘Round of 16’, while South River is 2-3. 

3A West

7 Linganore (9-0) v Oakdale (6-4) – Linganore and Oakdale produced one of the most exciting games of this season, when the Lancers pulled out a 54-53 overtime win over the Bears in week 4. The Lancers trailed 20-7 after one quarter, and 20-13 at intermission, before rattling off 27 straight points in the third quarter to take a 40-20 lead. The two exchanged touchdown scores, before the Bears closed regulation time scoring the game’s final 21 points and forcing overtime. With a win, Lancers coach Rick Conner can become just the eighth coach in MPSSAA history to record 30 playoff victories. Both teams average better than 325 yards of offense per game, with the Lancers averaging 38.9 points per game, and the Bears averaging 34.7 points per contest. Oakdale, who is 1-4 on the road, faced a grueling four week stretch where the Bears faced four top 50 teams – losing to Middletown, the Lancers, and Fort Hill, and posting a victory over Walkersville. While the Lancers, the 3A runner-up in ‘19, own a 13-2 mark in the regional final/quarterfinal round, they are 8-7 in the ‘Round of 16’. Oakdale, the 2018 3A state champions, are 2-4 in the ‘Round of 16’. 

19 Frederick (8-2) v Damascus (7-3) – This matchup is seemingly one of two programs going in different directions, though the arrows are within the current mesh point of both. Damascus, the 11-time state champion, is making its 30th playoff appearance, and just notched its 57th post-season victory, while Frederick is making just its sixth playoff appearance, and won just its fourth post-season game in its program’s history. The Cadets boast one of the top offenses in the MPSSAA, averaging 44.4 points per game. The Cadets have won seven of their last eight games, with their only loss coming to #7 Linganore, 28-14. While the Swarmin’ Hornets allow a respectable 15.5 points per game, it’s the most they’ve allowed since 2011. The Swarmin’ Hornets have won five of their last six games, since suffering two early season shutout losses to Northwest and Quince Orchard.

Picks to earn state quarterfinal berths; Linganore and Frederick.

3A North

10 Franklin (7-2) v Manchester Valley (7-3) – Franklin, the three-time 3A state champion, prepare themselves for the post-season, year after year, filling open dates with the best of the best. Whether it’s taking on Wise, like they did in 2011 and 2012, or Calvert Hall, like they did in 2013 and 2014, or McDonogh, like they did in ‘15, ‘16, and ‘19, or DeMatha, like they did in ‘17 and ‘18, Indians coach Anthony Burgos always seeks out the best, to prepare his troops for the high quality teams they meet in the post-season. This year, they took lessons from St Frances, a team no other Baltimore area team wants to take on with a ten foot pole. A week after a hard fought win over rival Milford Mill, the Indians suffered a 47-6 loss from the Panthers (two points closer than Good Counsel got a week later). The Indians failed a second quiz in their 27-13 loss to Dundalk, but appear to have straightened out some of the kinks, outscoring their last three opponents, 157-3. Manchester Valley has won five straight games, after back-to-back-to-back losses to Liberty, South Carroll, and Westminster. Franklin has a 10-4 in the ‘Round of 16’, while the Mavericks are 1-3.

Edgewood (7-3) v Westminster (7-3) – The Owls lost their first four games, but have since won their last six. The first four games were a tough slate, losing to South River (later forfeited), 14-13, Linganore, 42-7, South Carroll, 16-7, and Dundalk, 14-13, with the latter three all heading into this weekend with undefeated records. After losing to Gilman and Elkton to open the season, Edgewood has won seven of their last eight games. In 2019, Westminster advanced to the 3A quarterfinals, losing to Mervo, 16-6. Westminster holds a 5-2 mark in the ‘Round of 16’, while Edgewood is 1-3, with its only win coming over Franklin in 2018. Overall, the Rams are 2-10 in the post-season. 

Picks to earn state quarterfinal berths; Franklin and Westminster. 

3A South

Atholton (9-1) v River Hill (6-4) – It’s been about a decade since Atholton was 9-1 after ten weeks in ‘09, ‘11, and ‘12, and it’s been about a decade since Atholton and River Hill last played a post-season game against one another. In 2009, Kyle Schmitt took over at Atholton, and the Raiders and Hawks played in three regional title games against one another in four seasons, with the Hawks taking all three, the last preceding their third perfect season in six years, and Schmitt’s last game with the Raiders. While Schmitt moved on to Spalding, Hawks coach Brian Van Deusen is finishing his 22nd season in Clarksville. Though neither the Hawks or Raiders have found that success in the years since, the Raiders won a share of the county title for the first time in 10 years. The Raiders topped the Hawks, 14-7, in week 6, with Raiders quarterback Mills Scott scoring the game-winner on a 12 yard run with two minutes to go. The win snapped the Hawks five game streak over the Raiders. Since a 26-20 loss to Oakland Mills, the Raiders have won six straight games. Van Deusen became the seventh coach in MPSSAA history to register 30 post-season victories in the Hawks 3-0 win over Wilde Lake in the opening round. River Hill holds a 12-3 mark in the ‘Round of 16’, while Atholton is 5-2. 

City College (7-2) v Poly (7-3) – These two, at it again. Two weeks after the 132nd meeting between Baltimore City College and Baltimore Polytechnic, the Black Knights and the Engineers meet in the post-season for the very first time. The rivalry dates back to 1889. The first matchup this season between the two came down to the final second, as Poly missed a potential game-winning field goal as time expired, and the Knights pulled out a 20-18 victory. The Knights defense produced two ‘pick 6s’. The Knights now hold a 64-62-6 edge in the series over their arch rivals. City is 3-3 in the ‘Round of 16’, while Poly is 1-5. 

Picks to earn state quarterfinal berths; Atholton and Poly. 

3A East

25 Northern Calv. (8-1) v St Charles (6-3) – Northern put away St Charles, 41-12, in week 4, with Zach Crounse throwing four touchdowns in three quarters, before sitting. The Patriots have scored 32 or more points in seven of their nine games, and average scoring 34.3 points per game. In addition to the 29 point win over the Spartans, the Pats have a pair of quality shutout wins over Great Mills and Lackey, and a 36 point win over North Point. St Charles has won four of their last five games, including a 51-0 drubbing of Great Mills. Northern hasn’t advanced to a state semifinal since playing in three straight from 1988 to 1990. 

Long Reach (8-2) v Chesapeake AA (8-2) – Three weeks ago, Long Reach was 7-0 and headed for their first county championship since their first and only county title in 2005, but then got derailed with losses to Atholton (7-6) and Oakland Mills (22-0). The Lightning rebounded last week with a 48-0 win over a winless JM Bennett team in the first round. Chesapeake has won six straight games since back-to-back losses to Thomas Roosevelt DC (29-26) and Severna Park (36-17), including a 21 point win over Perry Hall, and a 22 point win over Arundel. Cougars running back Victor Listorti became the program’s all-time leading rusher, and has 1,437 rushing yards on the season, seventh best in the MPSSAA. Chesapeake did not face either of Anne Arundel County’s two best teams, Broadneck and Old Mill. Prior to last weeks win, the Lightning’s only two post-season wins came in 2017. Chesapeake is 1-2 in the ‘Round of 16’.

Picks to earn state quarterfinal berths; Northern and Chesapeake. 

2A West

Oakland Mills (8-1) v Walkersville (7-3) – In 2015, Walkersville traveled to Kilimanjaro Road in the ‘Round of 16’ and left with a 26-14 win. The Scorpions led 14-6 midway through the third quarter, before the Lions scored three unanswered touchdowns down the stretch. The Scorpions, who won a share of the county title for the first time since 2000, are looking for their first playoff victory since 2001. The Scorpions have produced three straight shutouts. The Lions are battle tested, having faced Oakdale (W 20-14), Linganore (L 25-12), Frederick (L 49-28), and Middletown (L 37-0). The Lions were eliminated by eventual 2A state champion and league rival, Middletown, in the ‘Round of 16’, losing in overtime, 41-34. Walkersville coach Joe Polce has a 136-58 career record over 17 seasons, five with Urbana, and 12 seasons with the Lions. Walkersville is 5-4 in week 11, while Oakland Mills is 0-4. 

23 Glenelg (9-1) v 24 Middletown (8-2) – The Gladiators, co-county champions, are playing in their eighth straight ‘Round of 16’ game, going 5-2 from ‘13 through ‘19, and are 7-6 overall in the round. Middletown has advanced to the regional final/quarterfinal round or better in every one of its 23 prior playoff appearances, and boasts a 11-0 record in the ‘Round of 16’. This game features the MPSSAA’s top two rushers, Glenelg senior quarterback Bisi Owens, and Middletown’s junior running back Carson Smith. Owens has rushed for 1,623 yards, and has accounted for 40 touchdowns for the Gladiators. Smith has rushed for 1,563 yards and has 24 rushing touchdowns, second only to Owens mark of 29. Middletown has quality wins over #19 Frederick (35-33) and Walkersville, the latter a 37-0 shutout victory. Knights coach Collin Delauter is 3-0 in the ‘Round of 16’. 

Picks to earn state quarterfinal berths; Oakland Mills and Middletown. Cheering for HoCo’s Gladiators and Coach Cullen, but I give the Knights the slight edge. As for Oakland Mills, I’m an ‘84 alum’, and a former Scorpion that wore the Orange & Black. 

2A North

8 Milford Mill (9-1) v Hereford (7-3) – Milford Mill has won nine straight games since their hard fought 19-14 opening week loss to county rival Franklin. The Millers subdued Hereford a week later, 32-7, getting production from all three phases – rushing for 302 yards on offense, returning a punt back on special teams, and returning a fumble for a score on defense. The Millers have held seven of their last nine opponents to 7 points or less. Senior Tahseen Howard, the Millers quarterback and leading rusher, has accounted for 2,598 all-purpose yards and 26 touchdowns. Millers coach Reggie White has won 152 games over 21 seasons with ‘the Mill’. After starting 1-3, the Bulls have won six straight games, including a 26-14 win over New Town. Both Milford Mill and Hereford are making their 21st playoff appearance. The Millers are 7-3 in the ‘Round of 16’, and the Bulls are 8-5.

Owings Mills (9-1) v New Town (7-3) – Owings Mills is having its best season in its program’s history, and win or lose, will set the program mark in win percentage. The Eagles only loss came to 8th ranked Milford Mill, 29-6. The Eagles only trailed the Millers 7-0 at half, and 13-0 after three quarters. The Eagles recorded wins over New Town, Hereford, and Kenwood. The Eagles topped New Town, 20-8, in week 8, and held a shutout until the last three minutes of the fourth quarter. Owings Mills has an opportunity to advance to the quarterfinal round for the first time in 24 years. The Titans advanced to the 2A state semifinals in both 2018 and 2019. New Town is 4-4 in the ‘Round of 16’, while the Eagles are 0-2.

Picks to earn state quarterfinal berths; Milford Mill and Owings Mills.

2A South

Huntingtown (8-1) v LaPlata (5-5) – Huntingtown has advanced to the state semifinal round in seven of the last eleven seasons, including the last two post-seasons. In 2018, the Canes fell to the eventual 3A state champion, Franklin, in the state semifinal, then lost to the eventual 3A state champion, Damascus, in the same round, in 2019. The Hurricanes have allowed just 9.6 points per game, and outside their 36-20 loss to North Point, have allowed only 6.3 points per game in their other eight contests. The Canes have won 18 of their last 19 games, and 23 of their last 25 gridiron matchups. Defensive lineman Riley Curtin has recorded 25 tackles for loss, 9 sacks, four fumble recoveries, and three forced fumbles. LaPlata’s biggest win of their five victories was a 33-28 win over Patuxent. Huntingtown is 7-3 in the ‘Round of 16’. 

16 Douglass (9-1) v 20 Potomac (7-2) – Another Douglass – Potomac clash awaits. This dynamic duo from the PG 3/2/1A has produced some blockbusters over the years, including seven meetings over the last eight years that were a one possession game, late in the fourth quarter. In ‘13, Douglass edged Potomac, 34-32. Two years later, Potomac pulled it out, 32-30. In ‘16, Douglass poured on 48 points in a 48-32 shootout. In ‘17, Douglass scored late to add on to their 6-0 margin in a 14-0 Eagles win. In ‘18, Potomac registered the shutout in a 6-0 win. In ‘19, Douglass again added late insurance, breaking open a 24-19 battle with a late score. This season, Douglass pulled out a 18-13 decision over their league nemesis. Douglass allows just 6.7 points per game, tied for sixth best in the MPSSAA. Potomac’s only two losses are to the Eagles, and to #18 Laurel, 19-18, in overtime. Douglass won its 30th all-time post-season victory in the Eagles 34-6 opening round win over Thomas Stone. The Eagles are 11-4 in the ‘Round of 16’. The Eagles are making their 24th playoff appearance. Potomac is making its 18th post-season appearance, holds an overall 23-15 playoff record, and is 7-5 in the ‘Round of 16’. Toss up, like it always is. 

Picks to earn state quarterfinal berths; Huntingtown and Douglass.

2A East

Kent Island (9-0) v North Caroline (5-4) – This Bayside bash will be the second of two, as Kent Island downed North Caroline, 38-14, in week 7. The Buccaneers broke open a 17-14 game by scoring 21 unanswered points to close the game. The Bucs are having their best season since 2011, when they headed into the state semifinal with a record of 11-0, before losing to Douglass. The Buccaneers are averaging 40.1 points per game, and have registered a +30.3 point differential. Bucs coach Damian Ferragamo won a 4A state title with Old Mill in 2009. The Bucs, who advanced to the 2A state semifinals in ‘11, ‘13, and ‘14, are 7-3 in the ‘Round of 16’. North Caroline is making its 10th playoff appearance, all under the guidance of coach James McCormick, who holds a 138-71 career record in 20 seasons with the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs advanced to the 2A state semifinals in 2015, and were eliminated in the 2019 2A quarterfinals by Middletown, 28-14. The Dawgs are 4-5 in the ‘Round of 16’. 

Wicomico (9-1) v Decatur (7-3) – This appears to be another Bayside shootout, as both squads average more than 38 points per game. Wicomico, the 2 seed in the 2A East, average 38.4 points per game, and have scored 34 or more points in seven of their ten games. Decatur averages 42.1 points per game, good for sixth in the MPSSAA. The Indians and Seahawks have already battled through one shootout this season, with the ‘Tribe’ pulling out a 47-41 victory. The Indians held a 35-28 halftime lead, a half that saw nine touchdowns scored. ‘WiHi’ rushed for 343 yards, led by Darius Foreman, who rushed for 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 15 attempts, and threw for three scores. Seahawks quarterback Ashten Snelsire threw for a MPSSAA season-best 516 yards and five touchdowns. Three different Seahawks receivers tallied more than 100 receiving yards and scored. Snelsire leads the MPSSAA in passing yards, with 2,498, and touchdown passes, with 32. The Indians won their first playoff game since 2011 last weekend, and have a 2-5 record in the ‘Round of 16’. Last Friday, Decatur won their first post-season game since 2005, and have a 3-4 record in the ‘Round of 16’. 

Picks to earn state quarterfinal berths; Kent Island and Wicomico. 

2/1A West

South Carroll (9-0) v Boonsboro (6-4) – The Cavaliers are having a storybook season, after finishing with an undefeated regular season record for just the second time in their program’s history. In 2010, the Cavaliers were 11-0 before losing to Middletown in the regional final. The Cavaliers are allowing only 8.4 points per game. Cavaliers quarterback Ryan Barnard has thrown for 1229 yards and 11 touchdowns, and rushed for eight scores. Boonsboro has won four straight, after losing four straight. The Warriors posted a 30 point victory over Liberty, while the Cavaliers struggled with the Lions, before pulling out a 28-23 win. South Carroll is 8-2 in the ‘Round of 16’, while Boonsboro sits at 1-11 in the ‘Round of 16’. 

Francis Scott Key (7-3) v Williamsport (6-4) – The Eagles of Francis Scott Key started 5-0, but have since gone 2-3, including tough losses to Westminster (28-27 OT), Manchester Valley (28-20), and South Carroll (13-7). The Eagles seven wins were over opponents with a combined 11-55 record. The Eagles average 30.4 points per game. The Eagles haven’t advanced to the regional final/quarterfinal round since 2004. ‘FSK’ is 2-6 overall in the playoffs, and 1-2 lifetime in the ‘Round of 16’. Williamsport, who won their first post-season game in 2019, is 0-2 in the ‘Round of 16’.

Picks to earn state quarterfinal berths; South Carroll and Francis Scott Key. 

2/1A North

12 Dunbar (9-0) v Fairmont Heights (6-4) – The Dunbar Poets, the winningest program since joining the MPSSAA, with 62 post-season wins and 10 state championships in 27 seasons (‘93 through ‘19). The Poets are 17-0 in the ‘Round of 16’. Poets coach Lawrence Smith is the MPSSAA’s all-time leader in post-season coaching wins, with 40, and all-time leader in post-season win percentage, at .851 (40-7). The Poets are the highest scoring team in the MPSSAA, averaging 45.8 points per game, with a +36.3 point differential, also #1 in the MPSSAA. Poets quarterback Devin Roche has rushed for 1,380 yards this season, and has accounted for 26 touchdowns in nine games. In 2019, Fairmont Heights lost to eventual 1A state champion Catoctin in the state quarterfinals. The Hornets are 1-4 in the ‘Round of 16’.

Sparrows Point (8-2) v Largo (7-3) – Sparrows Point won just their third post-season game in the program’s history last week, with a 48-0 shutout victory over Central. Largo won its first playoff game in 27 years in their 20-0 win over Carver. A win for the Lions would put them in the quarterfinal round for the first time since 1995. Pointers quarterback Collin Casey has thrown for 1,762 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Pointers are coached by former Chesapeake BC star and former NFL defensive lineman Lamar King, while the Lions are coached by former Eleanor Roosevelt star and University of Pittsburgh linebacker Derron Thomas. The winner gets Dunbar. 

Picks to earn state quarterfinal berths; Dunbar and Largo. 

2/1A South

Lackey (8-2) v Patuxent (4-6) – The Chargers have won 8 of their last 9 games, with their only loss coming to top 25 Northern (35-0). The Chargers biggest wins were over Leonardtown and Calvert, the two seed in the 2/1A South. The Chargers are led by running back Andre Smith, who has rushed for more than 1,400 yards. Lackey topped Patuxent, 14-12, in week 2. Patuxent started 0-4, but finished 4-2 down the stretch. Lackey, who were a 1A state Semifinalist in 2017, before losing to Fort Hill in overtime, 34-33, is making its 17th playoff appearance, and is 7-4 in the ‘Round of 16’. Patuxent, the 2015 2A state champion, is 7-3 in the ‘Round of 16’. 

Calvert (6-4) v Gwynn Park (5-5) – The Cavaliers have beaten who they were expected to beat, and lost to who they were expected to lose to. Ditto for Gwynn Park, who were shut out by Wise and Oakdale, and shut out Friendly, Central, and Surrattsville. Gwynn Park defensive end Amos Dorbor has produced 8 sacks and 28!tackles for loss. Calvert quarterback Stevie Oursler has thrown for 1,418 yards and 12 touchdowns. Carter Goshoff leads the Cavaliers in receiving, with 44 receptions for 699 yards and seven touchdowns, and has added seven interceptions on defense. Gwynn Park coach Danny Gayes has won 190 games in Brandywine. Gwynn Park is 9-4 in the ‘Round of 16’, and Calvert is 8-4.

Picks to earn state quarterfinal berths; Lackey and Calvert. 

2/1A East

Harford Tech (7-1) v Cambridge South Dorchester (4-4) – The Cobras have been unbeaten on the field, with their only blemish being a forfeit loss to Edgewood. Cobras running back Kelvin Mendez has rushed for 1,462 yards and 19 touchdowns in six games, and leads the MPSSAA in rushing yards per game, at an astonishing 243.7 yards per game. The Cobras are making their fourth playoff appearance in four years, and are 37-7 since the 2017 season opener. Cambridge is making its 35th playoff appearance, an MPSSAA record, shared with Fort Hill.  The Vikings advanced to the 2019 1A state semifinals, before being bounced by Dunbar. The Cobras are 0-2 in the ‘Round of 16’, while the Vikings are 7-6.

Fallston (9-1) v Elkton (6-3) – The Cougars are one victory away from being the first team in the program’s history to win 10 games. In 2011, the Cougars finished 9-1. The Cougars average 45.1 points per game, the second best mark in the MPSSAA, trailing only Dunbar. Cougars quarterback Aiden Dixon has thrown for 2,383 yards, second best in the MPSSAA, and 23 touchdowns, third best in the MPSSAA. Cougars receiver Dylan Wheeler leads all MPSSAA receivers with 1,247 receiving yards. This should be a high scoring affair, as the Golden Elks average scoring 34 points per game. Fallston is 3-3 in the ‘Round of 16’, while Elkton, making its 22nd post-season appearance, is 8-3 in the ‘Round of 16’. 

Picks to earn state quarterfinal berths; Harford Tech and Fallston.

1A West

11 Fort Hill (9-0) v Northern Garrett (5-4) – This region holds arguably the four best teams in the 2021 1A classification, with Fort Hill, Mountain Ridge, Allegany, and Northern, leading the pack, in that order. Fort Hill is making its 35th post-season appearance, tied with Cambridge South Dorchester for the most playoff appearances in MPSSAA history. The Sentinels will be playing in its 86th playoff game, another MPSSAA record. The Sentinels topped Northern, 17-7, in the season opener. The Sentinels average more than 325 yards per game on the ground. The Sentinels just capped off their 20th undefeated regular season. In the first matchup, the Sentinels leading rusher, Blake White, rushed for 149 yards and a score, while Brevin Stubbs added 88 yards and a score on the ground, on nine carries. Stubbs has 33 touchdowns in his career at Fort Hill. Northern is led by Jamison Warnick, who has rushed for 1,349 yards and 17 touchdowns, and added two interceptions and five forced fumbles on defense. The Sentinels, who have won 58 post-season games, are 15-3 in the ‘Round of 16’. Northern is 0-5 in the ‘Round of 16’.

Mountain Ridge (9-1) v Allegany (8-2) – Mountain Ridge crushed Allegany, 31-0, in week 3, with Jaden Lee totaling 197 yards on 15 touches. Miners quarterback Bryce Snyder threw for 144 yards, with six passes going to Nathaniel Washington for 75 yards. Two weeks ago, the Campers suffered a 42-6 defeat to Fort Hill at ‘Homecoming’, tied for the fifth worst defeat for the program in the rivalry’s history. Outside of their two losses to Fort Hill and Mountain Ridge, the Campers have outscored their other eight opponents, 267-89. Allegany, one of the most storied public school programs in the state, became just the sixth school in MPSSAA history to notch 40 post-season wins with their 55-6 rout of Southern Garrett in the opening round. The Campers are 9-2 in the ‘Round of 16’. 

Picks to earn state quarterfinal berths; Fort Hill and Mountain Ridge.

1A North

Havre de Grace (6-2) v Joppatowne (4-4) – Havre de Grace is making its 25th playoff appearance, and holds a post-season mark of 33-21. In 2016, the Warriors advanced to the 1A state final, and were 1A state semifinalists in ‘17 and ‘18. In 2019, the Warriors were eliminated in round one and finished 2-8. Joppatowne is making its 19th post-season appearance, and sports a 26-16 playoff record. In week 4, the Warriors shut out the Mariners, 15-0. The Mariners haven’t reached the quarterfinal round since 2009. 

Brunswick (6-4) v Pikesville (6-4) – Brunswick has taken on some tough competition, losing to a pair of top 25 teams – South Carroll (34-13) and Middletown (49-12), and another top 50 team, Walkersville (28-13). Pikesville’s six wins were to opponents that combined for a 14-46 record this season. Not only did Pikesville avoid the Baltimore County ‘Big 3’ – Dundalk, Milford Mill, and Franklin,  but the Panthers didn’t play the county’s next best six teams either. 

Picks to earn state quarterfinal berths; Havre de Grace and Brunswick.

1A South

Edmondson (6-4) v New Era (6-0) – Edmondson smoked Ben Franklin, 60-0, in round one, while New Era, making its first playoff appearance, escaped 1-7 Lake Clifton, 22-14, last week. Edmondson handled Lake Clifton, 28-6, in week 5. Edmondson, making its 17th playoff appearance, is 10-3 in the ‘Round of 16’.

Forest Park (5-4) v Douglass Baltimore (3-6) – Forest Park pounded National Academy Foundation, 50-0, in round one, while Douglass topped Lewis, 26-12. Forest Park edged Douglass, 8-6, in week 5. Forest Park, making its 14th playoff appearance, is 3-6 in the ‘Round of 16’. Douglass, who was the 1A state runner-up in ‘13 and ‘14, is 2-3 in the ‘Round of 16’. 

Picks to earn state quarterfinal berths; Edmondson and Forest Park.

1A East

Perryville (5-4) v Bohemia Manor (5-5) – Perryville edged Bo Manor by a point in the regular season finale, 7-6, after a scoreless first three quarters. Perryville upset Havre de Grace, 21-14, in overtime, in their most impressive victory. This, a week after the Panthers gave up 44 points to Patterson Mill in a 44-26 loss. Bo Manor beat Snow Hill, 41-14, in the opening round. Bohemia Manor is making its 17th post-season appearance, and is 2-8 in the ‘Round of 16’.  Perryville advanced to the 2019 1A quarterfinals, before getting dispatched by Dunbar. Perryville is 4-3 in the ‘Round of 16’.

Colonel Richardson (7-2) v Surrattsville (5-4) – Colonel Richardson blasted winless Washington in the opening round, 72-0. Colonel Richardson began the year with blowout losses to Bayside juggernauts –  Kent Island and Wicomico, and have since won 7 of 8 games. Surrattsville played a decent Largo team tough, but we’re blown out by Fairmont Heights. Last week’s win over Washington was Colonel Richardson’s first post-season victory in its program’s history. Surrattsville is 5-1 in the ‘Round of 16’. 

Picks to earn state quarterfinal berths; We’ll go with the home teams – Perryville and Colonel Richardson. 

Willie Sean Coughlan
Willie Sean Coughlan

HS Sports Analyst

Willie, a native of Chicago, and now a resident of Columbia for 40 years, is an educator at Homewood Center in Howard County, after spending 12 years as a real estate agent, following 10 years of running a small men’s retail company. Willie has contributed to Max Preps, Digital Sports, and Varsity Sports Network. Willie has produced MPSSAA top 25 rankings for both football and basketball for 15 years, across various platforms. From a large ‘sports family’, Willie’s brother Mike led Reservoir High to the 3A basketball state title game in 2018, while his nephew Anthony serves as the Indianapolis Colts College Scouting Coordinator.